John Cleese pulls out of Cambridge Union talk over ‘woke rules’

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John Cleese has pulled out of a talk at Cambridge University  (Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images)
John Cleese has pulled out of a talk at Cambridge University (Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images)

John Cleese has pulled the plug on a talk at Cambridge University as he told students who want to see him to “find a venue where woke rules don’t apply”.

It came after the union's president banned another speaker for impersonating Adolf Hitler.

The Monty Python star said he had done a similar impression on the famous sketch show.

Consequently he made the decision to withdraw from the event before he was asked to by someone else.

Mr Cleese apologised to members of the union who were looking forward to his address and suggested students who wanted to hear from him "find a venue where woke rules do not apply”.

He said on Twitter: “I was looking forward to talking to students at the Cambridge Union this Friday, but I hear that someone there has been blacklisted for doing an impersonation of Hitler.

“I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does.

“I apologise to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply.”

His comments followed a furious backlash over art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon’s impression of the German dictator.

It took place on November 4 during a debate on the motion: “This house believes there is no such thing as good taste.”

Cambridge Union president Keir Bradwell said Mr Graham-Dixon’s remarks were "grotesque" and apologised to union members.

In a statement, he said: “Neither I, nor the society, condones the thoughtless and grotesque language used by the individual in question, and I am sorry for my failure to intervene at the time.

“I and my committee represent an intelligent and diverse membership; I am disappointed that this debate let a number of them down this week.”

Mr Graham-Dixon issued an apology following the incident.

He said: "On reflection I can see that some of the words I used, even in quotation, are inherently offensive.”

The Evening Standard has approached the Cambridge Union for comment.

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